COVID-19 in J&K: Deaths Cross 100, Denial by Cremation

COVID-19 in J&K: Deaths Cross 100, Denial by Cremation

As the nation goes into the second phase of easing restrictions following the nationwide lockdown on July 1, the COVID-19 deaths in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir crossed the 100 mark. Yesterday, on June 30, six COVID-19 patients died in Jammu and Kashmir taking the death toll to 101, as per the official figures. The total number of COVID-19 cases in the erstwhile state have climbed to 7,497. As per the official reports, 260 new positive cases were reported yesterday, of which 32 cases were from Jammu division and 228 from Kashmir division.

Meanwhile, 137 more COVID-19 patients have recovered – 22 from Jammu and 115 from Kashmir – taking the total number of recovered patients to 4,722 until yesterday evening. As per the officials, of the six deaths, five were reported from Kashmir and one from Jammu.

Going by the district wise break -up of the number of positive cases in J&K, Srinagar has witnessed the highest number of cases at 938 while Kishtwar district from the Jammu division has recorded the lowest number with 27 cases till now.

No cremation ground for the deceased

Many cases have emerged wherein the people, who died due to COVID-19, were denied cremation and the family members were forced to move from one ground to another. The son of an elderly person who died due to COVID-19 told NewsClick that his father’s body was not allowed to be cremated. “We had taken the body to the spot as decided by the authorities yet we were not allowed to cremate. The local residents gathered and opposed the cremation,” the son of the deceased said.

On May 14, following the death of a Sikh in Jammu who was denied cremation, Balvinder Singh who is the chairman of the cremation ground in Gandhi Nagar wrote a letter to LG Murmu highlighting the plight of the families of those who have died due to COVID-19, but he has received any reply yet.

“On May 14, after the body of the Sikh was denied cremation by the local corporator. I got the body cremated at our cremation ground. We have cremated other COVID bodies at our cremation ground and I didn’t witness virus spreading,” he told NewsClick.

Singh said that he has read WHO guidelines and nowhere it mentions that cremation or burying COVID-19 patients is unsafe. “We need to sensitise people. This form of discrimination takes a toll on the aggrieved families of the patient who are already suffering a loss,” he said.

He added that he will keep raising his voice till the discrimination ends, saying “People must be sensitised that infection is unlikely to spread from dead body of COVID patient.”

Recently, AIIMS had clarified that it was safe to cremated dead bodies. “Coronavirus cannot spread through dead bodies. It spreads from respiratory secretion. Coughing is necessary for the spread of this virus. So there is no risk in cremating the infected bodies,” Dr Randeep Guleria from AIIMS had said.

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